The political pundits, who incorrectly predicted a Hillary Clinton victory, conceded that a strong turnout and avalanche of votes from Christian conservatives carried Donald Trump into the White House early this morning. But in the eyes of many Christians across the land, Mr. Trump was the recipient of a miracle and America has been granted one more chance to repent and turn the nation’s hearts back to God.
An Improbable Victory
In an election where Donald Trump was the least experienced candidate in the field, he shocked everyone by winning his party’s nomination – with opposition from the party power brokers – and then stumbled through a General Election campaign that featured the most negative tone of any in recent history. Political analysts wrote off his campaign, but he stubbornly hung on, stunning the experts that the election was even close coming into the final week of the race.
In the eyes of Christians, God’s fingerprints are all over his victory. Consider what the president-elect had going against him:
- He was facing an opponent with decades of experience, a deep network of contacts, universal name recognition, campaign infrastructure, party backing, and a sitting president who worked hard for her election
- He lacked any political experience, which was evident in his debate performances, his public speaking, his staffing choices, and his bare-bones and sometimes confusing policy statements
- He was outspent by an estimated 2:1 ratio
- His campaign had virtually no “ground game” – the effort of local staff and volunteers to identify supporters and turn them out to vote
- He was not only mistreated by the media – he made a game of calling them out for their lies and bias, a strategy no previous candidate had dared attempt
- Abandoned by the Republican establishment, his own party disowned him and many of its leaders very publicly criticized him and said they would not vote for him
- Two out of three Americans believed he is unqualified to serve as president, and his “favorability score” was the lowest of any presidential candidate since polling began
- Foreign leaders mocked him as unworthy of leading the country
- National polls consistently showed him losing the race
- Political analysts and pundits almost universally agreed that he was incapable of winning
Yet today he is President-elect Trump. His victory almost defies explanation; it makes little sense from a rational, empirical point of view. And that’s what a miracle is: God intervening to change our reality to align with His sovereign will.
SAGE Cons at the Point
Throughout the General Election campaign, the largest segment of support behind Donald Trump was the Christian conservative vote. While he was clearly not the preferred option of SAGE Cons – the Spiritually Active Governance Engaged Conservatives tracked by the American Culture & Faith Institute throughout the election cycle – he emerged the victor in the primaries and SAGE Cons took three months to line up behind him in massive numbers. Literally frightened and disgusted by the policy positions of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, SAGE Cons were the most reliable base of support he had.
While the SAGE Con constituency is not large enough to carry a candidate to victory on its own, no conservative candidate is likely to win a national race without their strong support. ACFI’s election night survey of 1,000 SAGE Cons indicates that more than 90% of them turned out to vote – and that 94% of them cast their ballot for Donald Trump! They provided such prolific support without much confidence that Mr. Trump would win: just half (52%) expected him to win.
Why did he receive such overwhelming support from a segment that admittedly found his character to be disappointing? Two-thirds (67%) said they preferred his stand on key issues and six out of ten (58%) said they disliked Mrs. Clinton. The survey noted that the issues to which they were referring were headed by the candidates’ stands on abortion (listed by 53%) and the Supreme Court nominations (49%).
Now the Hard Work Begins
The completion of the long and exhausting campaign season is simply the precursor to the hard work that must now begin, according to George Barna. He directed more than three dozen election-related surveys over the past two years as the Executive Director of the American Culture & Faith Institute and offered some perspective on the Trump victory.
“Mr. Trump did not win because of superior political strategy or performance,” stated the researcher and author. “God produced a miracle in response to the prayers and fasting of His people. Christians throughout the nation have been seeking God’s forgiveness and grace on America for months. The challenge is now for the body of Christ to be agents of reconciliation and unity, and to now lead the country toward policies and behaviors that will honor God and His life principles.”
Barna continued his observation by saying that there is much healing to take place even within the Christian Church in the U.S. and that faith leaders must see this as a critical time for the country. “God has given us a bit more time to show that we are serious about turning our hearts toward Him. For our nation to make progress we must be broken of our obsessions with sin, self, and society’s approval. We exist to worship, obey, love, enjoy, and honor Him. We have a small window of time to get our priorities straight and show that commitment through our behavior and choices.
“But today should be a day to celebrate God’s compassion toward us. This is an amazing ending to an unbelievable and unique campaign season. We may never see anything like it again.”
About the Research
The research described in this report is part of the RightView™ longitudinal survey, a national study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives who are registered voters – a segment known as SAGE Cons. The survey undertaken for this report had sample size of 1,000 qualified adults and was conducted online by the American Culture & Faith Institute on the night of November 8, 2016.
In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 12% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of approximately 30 million individuals.
The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians related to the political process, in ways that are consistent with the gospel of Christ. The organization does not support or promote individual candidates or political parties.